Let’s get a more detailed look at the business communication trends that have arisen from the pandemic for 2021, and how you can keep up with them.
Have a look at your desktop and chances are communication and collaboration apps like Microsoft Teams, Slack, Zoom, or even GoToMeeting are familiar icons. As companies seek communication solutions to equip their digital workplaces, the uptake has benefited all kinds of apps. Still, in spite of all these tools, the phone system is the foundation of effective business communication.
Too many apps to choose from results in an overload of communication options, creating inefficient business communication processes and confusion for employees over which is the right tool to use, and when.
It is more important than ever to use communication platforms that centralise workflows and which are capable of handling basic business calling duties, but also offer additional built-in functionality like web-based communication with chat, video calling, and integrations with other business systems, all to provide a one-stop platform for users to handle their communication needs.
Online communication apps should not result in user fatigue or frustration. Instead they should give users a convenient, fuss-free experience.
Communication is at the core of every business, and most businesses start with a telephone system as the basic building block for engaging with customers, suppliers, and partners. Cloud-hosted phone systems are a great way to support and enhance this basic need, while making it more efficient and ready for integration with other systems.
Communication tools overload
In the last 20 years, communication has increased in complexity. With the evolution of video, voice calls and direct messaging, contact centres that used to rely on simple interactive voice response (IVRs) systems to queue and route calls now have to manage the “omnichannel” experience of live chat, multi-channel conversational messaging, as well as email and phone support.
To support the growing numbers of channels, companies that invested a lot of money into on-premise solutions to support business telephony find themselves saddled with expensive, difficult to maintain systems and an impossible task of extending or integrating these systems with newer technologies, or adapting them to accommodate new workflows and business processes.
Many companies currently rely on communication workflows that involve app-switching, especially because new apps and technology arrive on scene, constantly. This gives rise to administrative hassles, as well as poor-quality leads and chaotic contact management. Worse, customers are more likely than ever to disengage due to this “channel-switching”, dropping out of sight as they also contend with these complexities and lack of coordination.
If you are in sales or part of a client-facing team, you understand how important it is that communication is streamlined, and that context is maintained across the customer life cycle, so that you are able to provide the best customer service on top of efficient inter-team communication to solve your client’s problems.
For example, if you are using Fresh Desk or Zendesk for client support, HubSpot or Salesforce for customer relationship management, and Microsoft Teams for group discussions and meetings, you may be struggling to manage how data is shared and flows across those various channels. To spend additional time managing contacts, logging calls, sending and receiving redundant messages (or not getting the message you need)… all result in employee fatigue and poor business productivity, not to mention increasing the potential to negatively impact customer experience.
Start with a cloud-based phone system
Cloud-based phone systems are a great place to start when centralising your communication tools. Some are powerful enough to offer all the features mentioned above. Cloud phone systems offer the ability to log calls, but you can now go one step further by logging and linking those calls into almost any CRM system, just as you might when using any major bulk email service like MailChimp.
This is especially important because voice interaction is still essential in customer service.
Cloud phone systems can also help sync contacts across different applications. Coupled with features like voicemail and digital assistants, it is possible that you will never miss a call again. Automating contact-sharing and call logging leaves you with more time to control, organise and manage your communication by simply configuring the cloud phone system to fit the way you work.
As cloud-based deployments have evolved another major benefit is reliability, with fast and reliable connectivity provided without the need to worry about hardware, installation and maintenance costs, or device compatibility. The best cloud-based phone systems offer apps for most mobile devices, as well as laptop or desktop workstations.
Ultimate solution: Centralised and integrated communications
There is a solution. You can address communication overload by deploying a core business communication platform that supports essential features such as:
- A range of connectivity options including IP-based telephony or web-based communication channels
- Web voice and video calling and conferencing
- Direct messaging and group chats
- Ease of installation and deployment to multiple devices, including mobile phones, laptops and desktop computers, and VoIP-capable desk phones and other hardware
- Integrations that help synchronise and manage workflows with other apps you use – such as your CRM or Customer Support tools
- Security, Reliability and Redundancy
Having all this at your fingertips will make your communication more efficient and greatly reduce the time needed to navigate through different apps. You and your teammates can easily sync up with meetings, chats and track requests or messages without worrying about losing important information, and more importantly, losing time.
As digital workplaces evolve and become more complex, it is important to keep in mind not only how many communication tools you have, but also whether it is the best fit for you and your employees. Streamlining helps you funnel more time towards achieving your important business goals rather than on administration and coordination of disparate systems.